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Flight Schooled

Kites reach new heights in OSEK.


Flying a kite is a childishly simple activity: Get up a full head of steam with the kite trailing behind you, and eventually it will catch a breeze and become airborne. Or you could just stand still and let the wind come to you.

"Kids learn the wrong way to fly kites," explains Harry Gregory, president of the Ohio Society for the Elevation of Kites, which meets the second Sunday of every month at Edgewater Park. "I don't run. If you've got the right kite for the right wind, it will fly. If we do not have wind, we do not fly. We sit. We don't run around, like you see kids doing. That's because we're smarter than the kids."

The society, formed in 1977, has over 100 members, none of whom drop by Marc's for a plastic Superman kite before heading to the park. The club is for serious flyers -- often wielding handmade kites much larger than they are -- but its structure is informal, which means show up if you want, and if you need help, just ask.

"Kite people are really nice," Euclid resident Mike Donely says, though he cautions that the sport can become an obsession. "I came down here one day, somebody handed me a kite, and it became an addiction thing. Now it's like $10,000 in kites later."

Luckily, the club's costs are only $10 yearly. Its mission is to encourage kiting, share knowledge, and revel in the fun of flying. The society even puts on workshops for church and school groups where eager pupils can learn tips on building their own kites, most of which, with a little help, are easily flown within minutes. Just don't spoil the fun by relapsing into prepubescent stupidity, says Gregory.

"The worst thing you can do, if you're flying a single line kite, is be stupid enough to try the Ben Franklin trick," he says. "When the weather turns bad, we pull 'em down."

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